ANDERSON — A poor shooting performance on offense and an inability to stifle the hot-shooting Rose-Hulman Engineers led to the Anderson men’s basketball team dropping its eighth consecutive game dating back to last season, 66-50.
Despite the Ravens’ dismal 30.4 percent shooting from the field, and 12.5 percent behind the arc, they managed to keep the Engineers within reach for most of the first half.
Freshman Nathan Acree hit a short jumper inside the lane to pull Anderson within seven at 22-15, then Rose-Hulman (3-2) put the game ultimately out of reach.
The Engineers went on their first significant run, 11-0, during a three-minute segment at the end of the first half. That offensive dominance led to a 33-18 halftime lead for Rose-Hulman.
“As a team this year we have had a problem giving up runs,” Ravens’ coach Owen Handy said. “We can play really well for 30-35 minutes, but we give up runs where we just are not in the ball game.”
Shooting struggles are nothing new for Anderson (0-7), who had shot 43.7 percent from the field in its opening six games. The Ravens were outscored in those contests 460-372.
“The first half I thought early we got good shots and missed them, and then we started to panic and take bad shots,” Handy said. “In the second half we got good shots and made them, which gives you the confidence to continue to do what you are doing.”
When Anderson took to the court in the second half, it was like a different team from the one that entered the locker room. The Ravens shot 13-of-23, 56.5 percent from the field during the second half, but still struggled to find success from the line (45.5 percent) and from 3-point range (25 percent).
The Ravens attempted to claw their way back in the game, during the early minutes of the second half by going on a 16-8 run to pull within eight with 10 minutes to play.
“In the first half we were rushing things and in the second half we were more patient with the ball,” Raven freshman Scott Schwieterman said. “We were working the ball around, inside and out. We were just hitting more shots.”
The 6-foot-7 forward led the Ravens in scoring with 15 and in rebounding with seven. He sat out the first three games of the season with an injured right hip flexor, but said he feels like he is nearing the conditioning level he wants to be at.
Rose-Hulman quickly answered with an 8-2 run after junior Max Mollaun exited the game with his fourth foul.
“Critical,” Handy said of the importance of Mollaun being on the floor. “He play with such a high motor and he was our best matchup for Julian (Strickland).”
Handy credits Strickland with sparking the Engineers’ 8-2 run.
“They won today because Julian Strickland is a really good basketball player,” he said.
During that run Strickland scored six of the eight, four from the free-throw line.
The 6-foot-3 guard, last season’s Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year, had a game-high 22 points on just 4-of-12 shooting from the field, but he had an uncanny ability to draw fouls and make his way to the line. Most of his points came on his 13-of-15 free-throw shooting.
Anderson is started two freshmen and had another see significant minutes, but Handy said that was no excuse and Schwieterman agreed.
“It is definitely a big adjustment from high school to college,” he said. “But, we are seven games in. We just need to compete harder, better in stretches.”